Changes to the Brain

 By: Katie Connell

                For a long time, scientists believed that changes to brain structure only occurred during infancy and childhood. By the time one became an adult, it was thought that brain structure would remain largely permanent and that no more changes could occur. However, in the 1960’s, scientists discovered that changes to the adult brain were indeed possible. One thing that verified this were brain changes that occurred to patient’s brains that were damaged in injuries and accidents. Damage that occurred in certain parts of one’s brain resulted in healthier parts taking over. With this discovery came insight into other ways that the brain could be changed, specifically in the realm of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great example of a type of psychotherapy that can lead to long lasting changes to the brain. During a process called synaptic pruning, extra neurons (which transmit information) and synaptic connections (which permit neurons to transmit info) are eliminated to increase the efficiency of neural transmissions. One way this happens is by neurons being used more frequently. Those that aren’t used as much get eliminated, which improves the transmission of information. By repeated exposure and engagement in CBT (including thought shifting techniques and cognitive restructuring), neurons become strengthened, meaning less synapses and better transmission of neurons. Through the use of routine CBT, critical neural networks are able to change how we think and feel.

If you or a person you know is seeking CBT or other forms of therapy, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Please contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. 

Source:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886

 

 

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Parenting: Introverted Children

By: Yael Berger

Initially, one might assume that it is certainly easier to raise an introvert than an extrovert. In theory, introverted children demand less attention and less maintenance than extroverted children. An introvert can also be viewed as being more self-contained, which in turn can be thought of as a calmer child, than an extravert. However, it is not necessarily the case that introverted children are easier to raise.

In actuality, the child’s level of extroversion has less to do with the ease of parenting than one might think. What really determines how hard it will be to raise a particular child is the level of similarity between the parents or parents and the child. If the parent and child share a similar constitution, it will be easier for the parent to determine the child’s needs, even if he or she is not exceedingly verbal about them. Conversely, if the parent and child have very different natures, it might be nearly impossible for the parent to decipher what the child’s needs are.

If the parent and child differ in disposition, it may also cause negative feelings toward the child in the parent. Because parents usually believe that their lifestyle is the “right” one, they will be inclined to try to change their child’s personality, which does not work and is damaging to the child and his or her relationship with the parent. For example, if the parents of introverted children attempt to raise them to be an extrovert, they will feel as though the person closest to them is rejecting who they truly are, resulting in feelings of shame. Once there is a barrier between parents and their children, it can make a child more susceptible to anxiety and depression later on. Because children are essentially incapable of affirming their worth internally, they must feel validated by their parents in order to feel nurtured and accepted.

In conclusion, it is best for the parents to attempt to parent children differently depending on their individual differences, as opposed to the common view that one form of parenting is the best form. In order to raise a happy and well-adjusted child, parents should understand and learn their children’s needs and level of introversion before forming a parenting style. For example, introverted mothers have to remind themselves to provide their extraverted child with more social contact than an introverted child. To have the best relationship with their children, parents should try not to have unreasonable expectations and understand their children’s personalities first. The way a family parents could shape the development of their children and impact their lives.

If you are someone you know appears to be suffering from issues linked to parenting, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201901/is-it-easier-or-harder-parent-introverted-child

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Recommended Book: Nurture by Nature by Paul D. Tiegar

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Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

Antidepressants: What Happens When You Stop Taking Your Medication

By: Julia Keys

Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome occurs when a person suddenly stops taking their anti-depressants. Sometimes individuals decide to go off of their medication because of side effects such as weight gain, nausea, or sexual dysfunction. Another common reason why individuals stop their medication “cold turkey” is because they may feel as if the medication has changed their personality. Anti-depressants are not meant to change one’s personality, but sometimes they can cause fogginess or fatigue which can make the patient feel “not like themselves” or “out of it”. However, abruptly going off medication can cause symptoms that are more painful and severe than the side effects one might feel on an anti-depressant that is not right for them.

The effects of anti-depressant discontinuation can be felt as early as a couple hours to as late as a couple days after missing a dose depending on the type of anti-depressant. Symptoms are typically ameliorated within six to twenty four hours after taking the missed dose.

Symptoms of Anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with balance
  • “brain zaps” or “brain shocks”, the sensation of a jolt of electricity running through the head, neck or limbs
  • Anxiety

Unlike illegal drugs, phasing out of anti-depressants can be a painless process if done correctly. In order to go off of anti-depressants successfully, one must slowly wean themselves off the medication with the help of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Tips to prevent or minimize anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome:

  • NEVER stop taking medication without talking to your doctor
  • Follow your doctor’s directions exactly when going off your meds. If you start to feel any of the symptoms of anti-depressant discontinuation syndrome contact your doctor as soon as possible
  • Set a reminder on your phone or computer to take your medication each day
  • Always keep your medication in the same place
  • Make sure to keep on top of your doctor’s appointments by putting them in a calendar so that you will never run out of medication by accident

If you are struggling with mental health issues and are in need of treatment, do not hesitate to seek help by contacting Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy, located in New York and New Jersey to speak to licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists. To contact the office in Paramus NJ, call (201) 368-3700. To contact the office in Manhattan, call (212) 722-1920. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html

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Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks

By: Lauren Hernandez

Many people face anxiety on a daily basis. Panic attacks are an extreme form of anxiety that many people experience. Panic attacks are described as an immediate fear of dying, going crazy or losing control. People who experience panic attacks may feel intense fear despite no real danger. Attacks may last anywhere from about ten minutes to an hour or more. Panic attacks are categorized as either situational or unexpected. According to PsychologyToday, “situational panic attacks are triggered by a particular scenario while unexpected panic attacks seem as though they come out of nowhere.”  While general anxiety is the worry that bad things might happen in one’s life, panic attacks feel like a surge of imminent danger and often have physical symptoms.

Symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
  • Choking sensations
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Numbness or tingling sensations, particularly in the extremities or around the lips
  • Chills or hot flashes

Panic attacks are a terrifying experience; however, they are quite treatable and can be helped with a combination of therapy and medications. For people who experience situational panic attacks, it is best to leave the feared situation which will typically decrease anxiety and end the panic attack. For people who experience unexpected panic attacks, take note of where, when, and possibly why the panic attack began in order to analyze this occurrence further with a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is one of the most common methods of treating panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Additionally, medication such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can help relieve anxiety and prevent panic attacks. Immediate relief can be achieved when benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Klonopin are taken. These medications are potentially abusive so they must be used with caution. If you or someone you know is suffering from panic attacks or severe anxiety, contact a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can help.

If you or someone you know who may be suffering from panic attacks, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-help/201109/panic-attacks-what-they-are-and-how-stop-them-0

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Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

Relationships: The Impact of Attachment Styles

By: Julia Keys

Did you know that the way one develops an attachment to their mother as an infant has a profound effect on their adult relationships? Attachment styles were first studied in detail by the developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in her experiment called “the strange situation”. In the strange situation, Ainsworth had a mother and a child play together for about three minutes and then the mother left the room. Next, a stranger would enter the room and play with the child for about three minutes and then they would leave. Finally, the child’s mother would re-enter the room and resume playing with their child. Ainsworth was most interested in observing the child’s behavior when their mother re-entered the room.

Upon careful examination, Ainsworth found three distinct patterns of behavior in infants when their mothers re-entered the room. If the child was upset, but then easily soothed by their mother upon re-entry, Ainsworth deemed them as having a secure attachment style. If the child was indifferent to their mother upon re-entry, Ainsworth would label them with an insecure avoidant attachment style. Finally, if the infant shows conflicting behavior upon the mother’s re-entry such as clinginess and then subsequent rejections of affection, Ainsworth would say they had an insecure ambivalent attachment style. Insecure ambivalent children are unpredictable in terms of their parental reactivity.

Ainsworth hypothesized that children’s reactions were a result of how their parents responded to their needs. Hypothetically, infants with secure attachment styles have their basic needs met consistently by their parents. This leads the secure infant to show a healthy dependence on their parents. Infants with an insecure avoidant attachment have their needs minimally met by their parents, which leads them to be independent and self-soothing. Infants with insecure ambivalent attachment styles have their needs met inconsistently from their caregivers, which results in confusion and conflicting behaviors.

So how does this “strange situation” relate to people later on in life? Researchers have found that attachment styles follow infants into adulthood and impact their behavior in relationships. While the behavior infants exhibited in the experiment relied on whether or not basic needs such as food, water, or comfort were met, attachments styles in adults tend to manifest themselves in more complicated ways.  Secure adults tend to have healthy and satisfying relationships where they can receive and offer support as needed.  Avoidant adults seek independence in relationships and oftentimes can appear a bit callous to their own emotions. Avoidant adults aren’t likely to offer support to their partners because they rarely depend on it themselves. Finally, ambivalent adults fear being either too close or too far from their partner, causing them to feel confused by their feelings and act in unpredictable ways in the relationship.

Although attachment styles are habits that people have probably been practicing subconsciously for all their lives, they are not permanent. Individual or couples therapy can help those struggling with their own emotions or communication skills.

If you or someone you know is struggling in a relationship, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201307/how-your-attachment-style-impacts-your-relationship

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Depression and Logotherapy

Depression and Logotherapy

Depression and Logotherapy

By: Julia Keys

The struggle to find the meaning of life is a classic human dilemma. One may be content with their every day activities such as going to work, spending time at home, or eating, but they might still wonder “what is my real purpose?”.  People with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance and alcohol abuse disorders are especially prone to being plagued with this kind of existential anxiety. A study by Alimujiang, et al. (2019) found that a sense of purpose greatly improves one’s physical, mental, and emotional health as well as overall life satisfaction. There is a specific type of psychotherapy called logotherapy (logo being derived from the Greek word for meaning), that is designed to help individuals find their true purpose in life.

Logotherapy was developed by a psychologist named Victor Frankl in the 1950s. Frankl drew upon his experiences during the Holocaust to develop logotherapy. Frankl was one of the millions of people that suffered the horrors of concentration camps. While imprisoned, Frankl noticed that those who mentally and physically survived the camp, usually found meaning in their lives there. After the camps were liberated, Frankl resumed his work with neurology and psychology and subsequently developed logotherapy.

There are three main principles of logotherapy:

  • every person has a healthy core
  • internal resources are more helpful in therapy than external resources
  • while life offers you meaning or purpose, it is one’s responsibility to explore that meaning to become happy or fulfilled

Frankl suggests that there are three main ways to reap the benefits of life:

  • by creating a work or accomplishing some task
  • by experiencing something fully or loving someone fully
  • by adopting an attitude that is at peace with the unavoidable suffering life may present

Logotherapy is used to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance and alcohol abuse. Logotherapy is a great choice for patients that want to find their own personal meaning of life. Focusing on one’s purpose in life can help people live their most fulfilling and happy lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find a meaning in life or is suffering from anxiety, PTSD, depression or substance or alcohol abuse issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/logotherapy

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/flourish-and-thrive/201906/the-importance-having-sense-purpose

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Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive? 

Am I Too Sensitive?

By: Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be an HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

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Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

Image result for disordered eating habits

Eating Disorders: Disordered Eating Habits

By: Julia Keys

Our culture is obsessed with weight, thinness, exercise, and beauty. Studies show that women under the age of 19 are particularly vulnerable to the problematic effects of social media; about 60% of girls have a desire to lose weight even though they are within the healthy weight range ( Morris & Katzman, 2003). As a result, many people have developed unhealthy ways of eating and exercising for dealing with the pressure to look a certain way. These habits can seem minor at first, but can quickly develop into an eating disorder. While disordered eating habits do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder, they are still unhealthy and potentially damaging.

Signs of Disordered Eating Habits:

  • Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

It is important to recognize the signs of disordered eating and try to eradicate them before they become potentially harmful. Clinicians advise to quit fad diets because they are extremely restrictive and often result in binge eating. Obsessive exercise focused on “fat-burning” or “calorie-burning” should also be avoided and replaced with physical activity that is more focused on enjoyment. Another tip psychologists give is to avoid weighing yourself every single day. Weight can fluctuate about 2-5 lbs. a day, so fixating on a specific number in order to be healthy isn’t helpful. If disordered eating habits suddenly get worse, or start to impact one’s daily functioning, one should seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201402/disordered-eating-or-eating-disorder-what-s-the

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

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Bipolar Disorder: Cognitive Deficits of Which You May Not Be Aware

By Samantha Glosser

When you hear the term “bipolar disorder” your first thoughts are most likely about the cycle of elevated and depressed moods, of extreme highs and extreme lows. This is to be expected, as these states of mania and depression are hallmark features of bipolar disorder, and they are typically the symptoms highlighted by mainstream media. In mania, individuals exhibit symptoms of high energy, decreased need for sleep, feelings of euphoria, extreme irritability, and impulsivity. In a depressive state, individuals display symptoms of low energy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, avolition, and suicidal ideation.

Sometimes there can be more to bipolar disorder than just these symptoms. For some, after the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms, there is a marked decrease in cognitive capacity across a few different areas. Typical cognitive deficits reported with bipolar disorder include the following: difficulties with working memory, such as word retrieval, and executive functioning, such as problems with planning, prioritizing, and organizing behavior. Individuals also experience difficulties retaining information that was just presented to them and can even experience slowed thought processes. These adverse cognitive impacts appear at both polarities of mood. It is also important to distinguish between two types of cognitive deficits: mood-phase specific and enduring. Mood-phase specific cognitive deficits are typical to most individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as these symptoms are only present during periods of mood intensity. Enduring deficits, on the other hand, will remain present even when an individual has sustained a period of partial remission or is at a baseline level of functioning (i.e., they are not experiencing mania or depression). Not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences enduring cognitive deficits. Individuals with a history of higher acuity symptoms, as well as individuals with a history of treatment resistant symptoms, treatment non-compliance, and/or unhealthy lifestyle choices are more likely to suffer from enduring cognitive deficits.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from bipolar disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/


Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bipolar-you/201412/cognitive-deficit-in-bipolar-disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

By: Estephani Diaz

The most commonly diagnosed disorder among children and young adolescents is ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Among adults, only 4% are diagnosed with this order. The most significant common symptoms for ADHD are: hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Each symptom has their own signs that professionals look out for. For example:

Hyperactivity:

  • Talks excessively
  • Always on the go
  • Restlessness

Inattention:

  • Misses details
  • Easily distracted
  • Often forgetful

Impulsivity:

  • Tough time waiting
  • Interrupts others
  • Blurts out answers

Along with the symptoms listed above, problems with organization, time management, and controlling emotions are also pat of ADHD. Procrastination, isolation and difficulty concentrating are challenges people with ADHD may also face. It is also likely for them to have trouble with self-esteem, relationships and addiction. ADHD can cause a person to have problems at school and work as well.

ADHD may be caused by genetics, brain injuries, chemical imbalance and other causes. Poor prenatal development such as smoking while pregnant, can be a factor behind ADHD too. If diagnosed with ADHD as a child, it will continue on to adulthood. Over the years, the disorder does not go away, a person just learns to manage their ADHD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.